The Big Think

February 13, 2013

Aweful

Filed under: Science — jasony @ 4:07 pm

Experiencing Awe Can Improve Your Life Satisfaction

February 12, 2013

Reflections on gun control by a Second Amendment advocate

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 1:55 pm

Reflections on gun control by a Second Amendment advocate

A very level-headed, historical, and law-based (as opposed to emotion-based) contribution to the discussion.

February 11, 2013

Fun with Argon

Filed under: Maker,Science — jasony @ 11:35 am

Immediately Evaporating Argon Ice

TechShop

Filed under: Maker — jasony @ 9:36 am

Project-Making Nirvana at Austin’s New TechShop

February 8, 2013

So God Made Paul Harvey

Filed under: Disclosure — jasony @ 7:09 am

I’ve bolded the parts I especially like.

So many people this week mentioned Dodge’s great Super Bowl spot, “So God Made a Farmer,” from a 1978 speech by the late Paul Harvey.

Here are some reasons it was great:

• Because it spoke respectfully and even reverently of others. We don’t do that so much anymore. We’re afraid of looking corny or naive, and we fear that to praise one group is to suggest another group is less worthy of admiration. So we keep things bland and nonspecific. Harvey wasn’t afraid to valorize, and his specificity had the effect of reminding us there’s a lot of uncelebrated valor out there. It would be nice to hear someone do “So God Created Firemen,” or “So God Created Doctors,” but I’m not sure our culture has the requisite earnestness and respect. We do irony, sarcasm and spoofs: “So God Created Hedge Fund Managers.” Anyway, it was nice—a real refreshment—to hear the sound of authentic respect.

• Because it spoke un-self-consciously in praise of certain virtues—commitment, compassion, hard work, a sense of local responsibility. The most moving reference, to me, was when Harvey has the farmer get up before dawn, work all day, and “then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board.” Notice the old word “town,” not “community”—that blight of a word that is used more and more as it means less and less.

Because it explicitly put God as maker of life and governor of reality, again un-self-consciously, and with a tone that anticipated no pushback. God, you could say anything in Paul Harvey’s day.

• Because it was Paul Harvey, a great broadcaster and a clear, clean writer for the ear, who knew exactly what he was saying and why, and who was confident of the values he asserted. He wasn’t a hidden person, he wasn’t smuggling an agenda, he was conservative and Christian and made these things clear through the virtues and values he praised and the things he criticized. You could like him or not, but you understood that by his lights he was giving it to you straight as he could. He was often criticized as hokey, sentimental and overly dramatic, and sometimes he was. But mostly he was a pro who hit his mark every day, and it says something about his gifts that since he died in 2009, the ABC radio network has appointed a number of successors, but Harvey never really was replaced. Because he was irreplaceable.

via WSJ

Insane in the Brain

Filed under: Education — jasony @ 12:04 am

Today I got a catalog for The Great Courses in the mail. I made a post a few months ago about this company and have really wanted to get some of their (over 400!) courses. Normally the DVDs can be in the $800 range for a full college quality course taught by an award winning professor but that’s the full retail price and they’re usually much cheaper. Well, this catalog has many of courses for 80% off! Some of them are as cheap as $20. I’ve spent the night happily compiling a wish list of DVDs/CDs to buy or ask for as gifts. I loves me some learning.

It gets better. I figure that a good quality college level course on investing, European history, Old/New Testament, The Civil War, Comparative World Religions, or The Foundations of Western Civilization, taught by an expert and getting high reviews, would be worth a few bucks. Education, right? However, on a whim, and not expecting much, I went to my local library’s webpage and typed in “The Great Courses”.

They have them. Dozens of them.

Squee.

February 7, 2013

Matt’s Gonna Love This

Filed under: Science — jasony @ 10:32 pm

Why quantum mechanics is the biggest embarrassment in all of modern physics

Quoth

Filed under: Quoth — jasony @ 9:02 pm

“You should bring something into the world that wasn’t in the world before. It doesn’t matter what that is. It doesn’t matter if it’s a table or a film or gardening – everyone should create. You should do something, then sit back and say, “I did that.'”

Ricky Gervais

Inoffensive Bumper Stickers

Filed under: Humor and Fun — jasony @ 9:01 pm

And now for something completely different:

9 Bumper Stickers for People Who Don’t Suck

Civilization under Assault

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 2:48 pm

An absolutely fantastic speech by Bill Whittle on civilization and why it feels under threat. It’s long (almost 2 hours) but really worth it if you have the time.

… of Record

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 1:08 pm

US newspapers accused of complicity as drone report reopens security debate

New York Times and Washington Post knew about secret drone base in Saudi Arabia but agreed not to disclose it to the public”

As Glen Reynolds says: “See, this is why, if you don’t like that sort of thing, you should want a Republican president– they get more media scrutiny”

It’s related to my post yesterday (and apologies if I came off cranky. I’ve been having some pretty severe sleep issues lately). The current President is inarguably guilty of continuing/increasing the bad things that the last President was (rightfully) hammered on. It’s just that now that the Right People are in office, suddenly my friends on the left are much less willing to talk about these issues. At least with a Republican in office the media isn’t guilty of hiding stuff that’ll hurt Their Guy. And the popular culture at large is more willing to hold a Republican accountable for chipping away at our Constitution. The ratcheting away of our Republic happens more slowly under an R than under a D just because they are held to a higher standard. Sure, it’s out of a desire for political power by the left, but I’ll take dishonest accountability over no accountability any day.

February 6, 2013

Moral Urgency: Changed

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 7:56 am

“During his presidential campaign, Republican Rep. Ron Paul criticized the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, saying: “Al-Awlaki was born here, he is an American citizen. He was never tried or charged for any crimes. No one knows if he killed anybody. … But if the American people accept this blindly and casually that we now have an accepted practice of the president assassinating people who he thinks are bad guys, I think it’s sad…

…“I don’t really necessarily agree with some of the things Anwar said against the United States, but does that mean they should kill him outside the law?” asked Nassar al-Awlaki….

The Obama administration has remained mostly mum regarding Abdulrahman’s death, and at times has struggled to explain it.”

I’ll bet.

American drone deaths highlight controversy

Ah, now that we’ve experienced that good old fierce moral urgency of change! I guess this stuff is okay now. At least the Right People are in power.

I’ve come to the decision that if someone protested against the trampling of Constitutional protections under the Bush presidency (renditions, Guantanamo, war, secrecy, deficits) and used those things as a reason to demand change, but then haven’t been shouting from the housetops for the last four years, then their previous complaints were based on just wanting Their Team to be in power. It was never about principles and you’ve just torpedoed any future legitimacy you may have had. Want to convince me otherwise? Start by being as vocal about the way things are now as you were in 2008. Otherwise you’re just a partisan hack.

Related: Your Government Can Kill You If…

Update: a related article here.

During the 2008 campaign and much of the early part of his presidency, Barack Obama obsessively argued that waterboarding all of three individuals–September 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and senior al-Qaeda leaders Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri–was a violation of human rights and a grave moral offense. Here’s the thing, though: unlike Mr. Obama’s drone strikes, no American citizens, no terrorists and no innocent children have died due to waterboarding. Yet the president’s press spokesman is defending Mr. Obama’s policies as “legal,” “ethical,” and “wise.”

Which leads me to two conclusions. The first is that it’s not always easy to navigate the murky waters of law, morality, and war and terrorism, at least when you’re in the White House and have an obligation to protect the country from massive harm. (After they were revealed, I had several long conversations with White House colleagues trying to sort through the morality of waterboarding and indefinite detention.)

The second is that it is true that there is a serious argument to be made that during wartime targeting terrorists, including Americans, with drones is justified [without due process, I disagree]. But that justification probably best not come from someone who has spent much of the last half-dozen years or so sermonizing against waterboarding, accusing those who approved such policies of trashing American ideals and shredding our civil liberties, and portraying himself as pure as the new-driven snow. Because any person who did so would be vulnerable to the charge of moral preening and moral hypocrisy.

February 4, 2013

Hole Up

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 6:35 am

An America Cramped by Defensiveness

February 3, 2013

So What?

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 6:07 pm

How Do We Respond to ‘So What?’

With a Side of Science

Filed under: Science — jasony @ 1:38 pm

Science cafes offer a sip of learning/a>

February 1, 2013

Counterexample

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 10:18 am

Armed guard disarmed teen in Atlanta school shooting, says police chief | The Salt Lake Tribune

But you won’t be hearing about this non-stop as an example of why it’s a good idea to protect our schools. Doesn’t fit the narrative.

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